What is the difference between anxiety and depression?

Posted on December 06, 2018


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The best way to understand the difference between the two disorders is with the primary symptoms.
These include:

Anxiety
Mental symptoms

  • Apprehension over what's about to happen and about the future.
  • Worried thoughts, or a belief that something could go wrong.
  • Feeling like you need to run away or avoid things.

Physical symptoms

  • Fight or flight response symptoms, such as shaking, sweating, feeling the need to run or move.
  • Physical symptoms that resemble health disorders, especially if accompanied with health worries.
  • Fast heart rate, bowel issues, hyperventilation, and other "energy" causing symptoms.

Depression
Mental symptoms

  • Feeling of sadness or hopelessness about the future.
  • Lack of belief that positive things will occur.
  • Little worry, but instead a certainty of future negative emotions. Possible suicidal thoughts.

Physical symptoms

  • Severe lack of energy or drive.
  • Flat effect, lack of emotion, along with slowed thinking and behaviours.
  • Severe appetite changes, headaches, and sleep problems.

Depression can occur after someone experiences anxiety, because severe anxiety can result in feeling drained and hopeless once the anxiety is over. That's why the two conditions can be difficult to tell apart. Similarly, those with depression can still fear certain things getting worse, despite already being of the belief that the future is less positive or bright. Depression tends to have fewer physical symptoms, but the mental symptoms can be so dangerous (especially the potential for suicidal thoughts) and the lack of energy so pronounced that many people with depression deal with intense struggles daily that certainly rival the symptoms of anxiety.  

Life’s struggles don’t clock off when we clock on at work. As employers or staff,
we can all create a culture where people feel confident asking and answering 
the important question of "are you okay?" 

For more information contact Beyond Blue, beyondblue.org.au